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Officials, Tenants To Call On New York State To Change Rent Law Loopholes

April 08, 2018 - 1:22 pm

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- City Council Speaker Corey Johnson was set to join tenants and elected leaders Sunday to urge state lawmakers to close loopholes in rent laws.

The rally was planned for the Ebbets Field Apartments in Brooklyn, and was also set to include city Public Advocate Letitia James, Comptroller Scott Stringer, City Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo (D-35th), and New York state Assemblyman Walter Mosley (D-Brooklyn).

Ebbets Field Tenants Organization President Beverly Newsome spoke with 1010 WINS Sunday. She pointed specifically to preferential leases as one of the most egregious tools aimed at tenants.

According to the Met Council on Housing, preferential rent is any rent charged to a rent-stabilized tenant that is lower than the legal rent. Any tenant with preferential rent can see a hike anywhere up to the legal rent upon renewing a lease, sometimes amounting to hundreds of dollars, the council said.

Newsome said the practice makes communities transitional, as tenants suddenly find out they can no longer afford their rent.

“At Ebbets Field, we have people who have been here for 50 years. They’ve raised their kids. Now they’re hoping to support their grandkids,” she said. “So, you know, preferential leases do not do that. They do not encourage that. They do not support that.”

Newsome said the preferential rent policy comes on top of harassment by landlords.

“Right now, the way the rent laws are written, they’re enabling the landlords to harass tenants – especially our seniors – taking them back and forth to Housing Court. We have preferential leases on top of that, which a tenant is unaware of what their rent is going to be,” she said.

When a tenant leaves an apartment, the landlord is allowed to raise the rent up to 20 percent.